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Government is failing hospitality businesses, public warns

Published:  21 November, 2023

The UK Spirits Alliance (UKSA), representing hundreds of small businesses across the UK, has called on the government to back hospitality and distilleries by freezing duty on spirits at the Autumn Statement.  

To further back its cause, new polling by UKSA, in collaboration with Survation, has found the vast majority of the public don’t believe the government is doing enough to support Britain’s hospitality industry. 

A poll of over 12,000 people across the UK has revealed the government is out of step with public opinion on Britain’s hospitality and distilling sectors.

For instance, just 18% said the government was doing enough to support hospitality venues in their area (vs 57% that said not enough support was provided, and 26% didn’t know). 

The public is also keen to support hospitality, with 83% stating that jobs in hospitality are an important part of their local economy.

The same can be said of local distilleries, with 64% stating that jobs in distilleries are an important part of their local economy.

More widely, the poll found that voters no longer view the Conservative Party as the party of small business. Just 31% associate the Tories with supporting small business, compared to 45% who do not. The public is, however, more likely to associate Labour with supporting small businesses (41%) than not (33%).  

The survey comes as pressure grows on the government to back hospitality and distilleries by freezing duty on spirits at the Autumn Statement.  

The polling also shows the majority of the public believe that taxes on alcohol should be reduced or frozen in the Autumn Statement (55%), while a third (33%) believe taxes should be allowed to rise in line with inflation (12% don’t know).

Damian Lyons Lowe, CEO of Survation, said: “The government is always keen to associate itself with supporting British hospitality venues and distilleries, with photo opportunities of politicians pulling pints in their local pubs or sipping craft gin at their local distillery. 

“It is clear, however, from our polling of both pubs and distilleries that these businesses have been at the sharp end of food and energy price inflation pressures and report that duty increases have made the outlook for many of their businesses bleak. This has not escaped the public’s attention, who would look favourably on any move to support the sector”.   

The UKSA, in its submission to the chancellor’s November Autumn Statement, said: “The chancellor should ensure a fair approach across the industry, and freeze duty on all drinks enjoyed by consumers, rather than simply a beer and a cider pulled in a pub.”